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Indonesia: violent response to union strike

19 October, 2020Workers and unions in Indonesia who went on a national strike on 6-8 October after the country’s Parliament passed the controversial Omnibus law, were met with violence and arbitrary arrests.

Union members across Indonesia went on strike in October to protest against the Omnibus law. Unions had successfully forced Parliament to suspend a debate on the bill in April, only to swiftly pass it on 5 October.

The strikes were met with violence and arbitrary arrests. According to reports, 32 members of Federation of Indonesian Metal Workers' Union (FSPMI) were injured by water cannons in Bekasi, another ten were arrested in Bekasi and Jakarta, as the police accused workers of striking outside of allowed hours.

An FSPMI driver in Bekasi was interrogated by Jakarta police, and then detained overnight.

Said Iqbal, president of Indonesian Trade Union Confederation (KSPI) and FSPMI, says: 

“We will continue to fight by constitutional means and are planning protests across the country. We may also file a judicial review at the constitutional court, or escalate the anti-Omnibus law campaign on the international stage.”

Ten members of Chemical, Energy and Mines Workers Union (CEMWU SPSI) were detained by police in Jakarta while drinking coffee, as the police wrongfully accused them of being involved in rioting.

Furthermore, five members of All Indonesian Trade Union Confederation (KSBSI) were arrested by police in Jakarta for violating the large-scale social restriction (PSBB) rules imposed by the Jakarta administration.

Elly Rosita Silaban, KSBSI president, says:

“We are negotiating with police to release one member who is still detained. Workers should not be blamed for violating social distancing rules; by passing the Omnibus law, government and Parliament have forced workers to take it to street.”

IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches says:

“We call on the Indonesian government to respect and protect the freedom of expression of Indonesian workers, and to ensure action is taken against the police officers who violated International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) ratified by Indonesian government.”